John Hlophe, Busisiwe Mkhwebane among nominations for chief justice


Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane have been nominated for the chief justice post.

  • Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane are among those nominated for the chief justice post.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has, for the first time, opened up the nomination process to the public.
  • The frontrunners are reportedly Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, SCA President Mandisa Maya, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and Constitutional Court Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane have been nominated for the chief justice post.

The public had until 1 October to send in their nominations and a selection panel will now shortlist suitable candidates for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s consideration.

Lobby group SA Natives Forum confirmed in a statement that it had, together with the Black Lawyers Association and Democracy in Action, nominated Hlophe and Mkhwebane.

“We believe our nomination[s] will ensure that the Constitution of the republic is respected and secured,” it said.

However, the chances that Hlophe and Mkhwebane will secure the role are seen as slim.

Last month, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) announced that it had voted for Hlophe to face impeachment, paving the way for him to become the first judge in democratic South African history to be removed from office.

READ | ‘I have not outsourced anything’ – Ramaphosa on chief justice selection process

However, the JSC committed to not recommend Hlophe’s suspension to Ramaphosa until his major court challenge against the gross misconduct finding against him was finalised, News24 previously reported.

In April, the tribunal unanimously found that Hlophe had tried to improperly influence Constitutional Court justices, Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde, to rule in favour of then ANC president Jacob Zuma in a 2008 case about the admissibility of 93 000 pages of evidence in his corruption trial.

Hlophe was adamant that the tribunal’s findings against him were legally and factually suspect and should be overturned. He also disputed the legitimacy of the JSC vote that led to his possible impeachment.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Meanwhile, Mkhwebane has become the first Public Protector to be criminally charged and faces two counts of perjury.

She is accused of lying under oath in November 2017 when she unlawfully and intentionally deposed to an answering affidavit under oath in a Gauteng High Court review.

The frontrunners in the race to become chief justice are reportedly Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Supreme Court of Appeal President Mandisa Maya, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and Constitutional Court Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga.

The Sunday Times reported that while they all had strong support, Maya seemed to be the consensus candidate.

Maya, 57, started as an attorney’s clerk in 1987. After sitting as an acting judge in the High Courts in the Western Cape and Mthatha in 1999, she was first made a permanent judge the following year. She has been SCA president since 2017.

Zondo, 61, is chair of the State Capture Inquiry and has been trying to finalise its work amid his appointment as acting chief justice in July. 

Mlambo, 60, is credited for his administrative leadership and building Legal Aid SA into a success story, according to an analysis by Franny Rabkin in the Sunday Times.

READ | Hlophe abandons interdict application – Speaker will abide by ruling of the court

His notable rulings include giving media houses the nod for full audio and partial television broadcasts of the trial of convicted killer Oscar Pistorius in 2014; and ruling that the government’s failure to detain former Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution.

Madlanga, 59, was permanently appointed as a High Court judge in Mthatha in 1996, becoming the youngest judge in South Africa at the time.

He served as evidence leader at both the commission of inquiry into the fitness of Bheki Cele to hold office as national police commissioner, and at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. He was appointed – directly from his practice as an advocate – to become a Constitutional Court Justice in 2013.

The term of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who took long leave this year, comes to an end later this month.

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Publish date : 2021-10-03 13:08:22

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